Weekend Diversion: Advertising vs. Art

How artist Brian Kane is bringing a moment of peace to one of the most urbanized, ad-saturated areas in the world.


“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’” -Sylvia Plath

We’re often bombarded with images, messages, and the harsh realities of our own lives that disconnect us from the things that truly bring us feelings of joy, peace and contentment. Sometimes, it feels like giving into defeat and despair would be the easiest path through the world, as Bonnie “Prince” Billy sang in his alluring, catastrophic song, The Southside of the World.

But when you can take the time to feel connected to the natural world — to all that grows, thrives, flourishes and shines — it can remind you of what’s beautiful, valuable and worth something in this world.

Recently, one artist has been taking that sentiment to a whole new level.

Image credit: © 2015 Brian Kane, via http://briankane.net/healing-tool/.

By simulating natural scenes where you least expect to find them, on a ClearChannel billboard, artist Brian Kane has attempted to digitally restore a portion of the natural world (and in many cases, an enhanced version of the natural world) to commuters in Massachusetts.

Image credit: © 2015 Brian Kane, via http://briankane.net/healing-tool/.
During the day hours, a series of images from the specific location are shown on the display. We replace the missing background and create a magic dimensional window. A dynamic motion parallax effect occurs as the vehicle passes the location.
Image credit: © 2015 Brian Kane, via http://briankane.net/healing-tool/.

This includes night scenes as well, that leave you appreciating the beauty of the skies that you’ll never be able to see from these urban highways.

Image credit: © 2015 Brian Kane, via http://briankane.net/healing-tool/.
During the evening hours, high-resolution images of the moon are shown. Synced to the daily phase, people can view the moon despite the effects of urban light pollution. An image of the Milky Way is shown on new moon night.
Image credit: © 2015 Brian Kane, via http://briankane.net/healing-tool/.

It’s a remarkable project, and the video, below really captures the experience of what it must be like for someone actually driving along the highway to see it.

You can find the map of where to see these billboards here, and I particularly like what Brian himself had to say about the purpose of his work:

The goal is to provide a moment of temporary relief and unexpected beauty during the daily grind of commuting.
The piece builds on a body of work which simulates digital experiences in the real world. In this case, simulating the Photoshop Healing Tool to replace or patch over the landscape which is blocked by the billboard.

It’s the best example I’ve seen of what’s being called “unvertising,” or using a traditional advertising space (or resources) to make a positive campaign with no message at all.

Check out this project, Healing Tool, on the artist’s website here. Thanks to This Is Colossal for bringing it onto my radar, and hope you enjoyed it!


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